How to set goals and achieve them

goal settingWhat is life really all about? Do you ever ask yourself that question?

Paying bills and drifting aimlessly through life is not living, it is merely existing, surely?

Personally, I don’t want to live forever but I do want to live life to the full whilst I have the chance. Don’t you?

A life well-lived should include some notable achievements, if you are to realize your full potential and leave a legacy behind you. And leaving a legacy does matter too.

However achievements require proper goal setting if they are to be accomplished.

This article explores goal setting and how goal setting can be translated into achievement. It is by accomplishing goals that you will get a genuine sense of achievement and you feel your life has meaning.

Successful people:

Why are some people successful and others not so?

Successful people generally are no more intelligent than unsuccessful people. In fact many highly intelligent people remain unsuccessful throughout their lives. It’s not about whether you’re clever or not.

Successful people know what they want and they’re determined to get it. Successful people set goals for themselves based on what they want and they pursue those goals with determination and persistence.

You cannot hit a target you cannot see.

You cannot turn your dreams into achievements without goal setting.

However goals don’t set themselves, nor do they accomplish themselves. It requires effort from you.

So get started; identify what matters to you; set goals; keep going; and achieve your aspirations.

Goals must really, really matter:

The act of goal setting alone does not in itself guarantee success. Many people set goals which they fail to achieve.

Why do you think that might be?

The simple answer is that goals often fail because the goal setter didn’t want the potential prize badly enough. They didn’t fully know their ‘Why?’.

For a goal to be achieved the outcome if it’s accomplished must matter to you. If you don’t regard the outcome as being sufficiently worthwhile then you won’t have the motivation to see the goal through to conclusion.

The goal must mean enough to you if the extra effort required to achieve it is to seem sufficiently worthwhile.

Make no mistake any goal worth achieving will require a lot of determination, persistence and hard work. Nothing worth having ever comes easy, that’s for sure.

To quote Napoleon Hill, “Desire is the beginning of achievement.” You must have the desire and the outcome must matter to you.

Change your thinking; change you life:

How we think matters too. You can’t achieve much with negative thinking.

A positive mind with a genuine sense of direction will take you as far as you really want to go.

There are no limits for anyone with enough self-belief and a real sense of what they really want from life. Believe you can and you will. Believe you can’t and you won’t.

The way your mind is currently programmed may be getting in the way of you getting what you want but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can change your thinking and, if you do, it will change your life.

Dream lofty dreams:

Don’t be afraid to have a vision for yourself that is truly inspiring. Don’t be afraid to have dreams big enough to be just a little bit frightening. It is on the edge of your comfort zone that you’ll begin to feel you’re really living life to the full.

And your goals should be big enough to stretch you and inspire the desire within you. Be realistic of course but don’t make goals too easy.

Anything easy will not give you a sense of achievement, that’s for sure.

Revisit your inner child:

Children have no limits to their dreams. Most children believe they can achieve anything they want in life. They’ll tell you they want to be an astronaut or an Olympic gold medalist or whatever.

As children we all had grandiose ideas about what we might be in life. Certainly I did. Perhaps you did too dear reader?

The problem is, as we get older, life takes its toll and we all got a little bit more cautious and a lot less ambitious, don’t we? We fear losing face if we are seen to try and then fail.

Self-doubt creeps in and before long we’re adjusting our ambitions downwards. Perhaps we won’t become an astronaut, maybe we’ll settle for being a bus driver instead.

As human beings, often we fear failure and the perception of any resulting embarrassment much more than we genuinely desire success.

We don’t fully appreciate that any minor embarrassment that might result from getting an outcome we didn’t want is actually a lot less painful than spending the rest of our lives wondering what might have been.

We fear failure and yet there’s no such thing as failure, just opportunities to learn and start again.

So goal setting starts with pretending you’re a kid again and believing that anything’s possible.

Just sit down with a notebook and a pen or possibly your tablet computer and start brainstorming right now.

Write down your list of your 101 biggest dreams and goals.

Now don’t think about whether or not they can be achieved, just write them down.

Then from that list you’ve written, identify the items that really, really matter to you.

And remember this; if the goal really, really matters to you then you will find a way to achieve it. Goals only fail when they don’t matter enough.

Remember life requires balance:

Knowing what you want and why it matters to you will help you achieve your goals.

However never forget your goals should promote balance in your life too.

In setting your goals they should benefit you but they should also benefit your loved ones too.

If your loved ones can understand the benefits to them as well as you then they’re much more likely to support you in the achievement of your goals.

And you will need their support. No one ever achieves anything in complete isolation.

Never, ever lose sight of your loved ones in anything you choose to do.

The art of goal setting:

Start by deciding exactly what you want to achieve and then make a firm commitment to it. You must feel genuinely motivated by your goals.

Your goals should be:-

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-limited

This is the so called SMART technique.

Once you have goals you must write them down. This will make them feel much more tangible.

You must share them with other people too, especially your loved ones.

This approach will have a subliminal effect on you and help in the process of achieving your goals.

Then you must plan the steps you will need to take if you are to realize specific goals.

The planning process will almost certainly result in a big goal being broken down into a series of smaller goals and activities.

Then once you have a plan you can cross off each activity as it’s completed.

6 Steps to Goal Setting:

To summarize the goal setting process:-

  • A goal must be specific
  • A goal must be time-limited
  • A goal must be written down
  • A goal must have a plan
  • A goal has a price to be paid
  • A goal must be in your thoughts every day

11 reasons why goals fail:

If goal setting is something you’ve tried with little or no success then you might feel it would help you if you had a better idea of why goals fail. Fear not dear reader help is at hand.

In the embedded video Vic Johnson from Goals2Go.com provides some interesting insight into motivation and goal setting. His words are wise and certainly they will make you think.

It’s a fairly short video but well worth your time if your aim is to improve your goal setting technique and set goals that will result in achievements for which you can be truly very proud.

Further Reading:

Brian Tracy has produced an excellent book and audiobook on goal setting. This offers three and a half hours of useful advice and guidance. The book is called:-

GOALS! How to Get Everything You Want – Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible.

I have the audio version of this book and I listen to it frequently when I’m driving. It’s really helpful and truly inspirational I think.

In the book, Brian Tracy explores the key elements of goal setting and the actions necessary to set and accomplish goals of any size.

This book will help you determine your strengths, your true values and goals that will really matter to you.

Brian Tracy explains how to build your self-esteem and confidence and how to overcome every obstacle and problem.

He also explains how to respond to challenges and how to continue moving forward regardless of what’s happening around you.

This book really is a ‘mental fitness’ program for character development and it can help you become the kind of person who can achieve any goal you set yourself.

This would be a great addition to your personal development library and it is well worth the cover price. Buy it today.

You can check it out and buy it from Amazon if you CLICK HERE.

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Disclosure: This post includes Amazon Affiliate links, meaning I will receive a modest commission should you make a purchase from Amazon via one of the links included in the text. However there would be no additional cost to you in making any purchase. These commissions serve only to help with the cost of maintaining and operating this website. Your understanding in this matter is truly appreciated dear reader. Thank you.

© Roy Joseph Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2019. All Rights Reserved.

What makes a great idea?

What makes a great ideaWhat makes a great idea?

How is it that one idea can be successful and another idea less so?

Why has the iPhone been so successful and yet the Blackberry has all but disappeared?

How do you know when one of your ideas might just make big a difference?

The key ingredient for a great idea is timing. Ideas are a dime a dozen. The trick is to know when one of your inspired thoughts is right for its time and therefore how hard to push it.

If you’re too far ahead of other peoples’ thinking, that inspired thought you believed was great will only be ignored because it won’t resonate with people.

If you’re too far behind, then it will be ignored because they’ve seen it all before.

However if you can hit that sweet spot between the two extremes then you can generate value from your idea because it will capture the imagination of the people who are ready for it.

An idea whose time has come is a truly great idea. Though coming up with one is not so easy, of course.

It’s because great ideas are so rare that they can become so valuable. And that value is why it’s worthwhile to seek out great ideas constantly.

Should you decide the world is not quite ready for your inspired thinking then don’t worry. Not ready now doesn’t mean the world will never be ready.

Keep a journal and make a note of all those flashes of inspiration. And add your journals to your own personal library. Never throw your journals away. Go through them occasionally and see what ideas you’ve had for which the time might now be right.

Your personal journals could be a source of pure gold in the future so make sure you buy quality notebooks that you can add to your personal library as you fill them with your thoughts and inspiration.

My personal preference is for the RHINO A4 160 Ruled NoteBook which can be purchased from a great selection of notebooks that Amazon has in stock.

You might consider this notebook to be a bit expensive of course but buying cheap notebooks is a false economy.

In keeping journals you’re creating value. And value starts with a good quality notebook which you can BUY HERE.

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Disclosure: This post includes Amazon Affiliate links, meaning I will receive a modest commission should you make a purchase from Amazon via one of the links included in the text. However there would be no additional cost to you in making any purchase. These commissions serve only to help with the cost of maintaining and operating this website. Your understanding in this matter is truly appreciated dear reader. Thank you.

© Roy Joseph Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2019. All Rights Reserved.

Productivity Tips: Structure your day for maximum productivity

ProductivityHow much do you achieve each day?

What do you actually deliver in terms of results? After all, results matter don’t they?

We’re paid to deliver results, aren’t we?

To demonstrate that we’re adding value in our jobs or our businesses, then it’s all about productivity surely?

Being busy is not the same as being productive. They’re very different things, aren’t they?

Most people know that I’m sure but they still struggle to improve their productivity.

Do you ever feel that you could be more productive dear reader?

Do you ever wonder how you might improve your productivity?

Well when you’re not sure what to do, you can always turn to a master. And when I’m seeking advice on mastery, one expert to which I frequently turn is Brian Tracy.

In the embedded video, Brian Tracy offers some very useful tips for becoming more productive.

In my opinion, Brian Tracy always offers great advice and in this short video he offers some real pearls of wisdom I think.

They’re all simple ideas but they can increase your productivity if you apply them regularly.

This video is recommended viewing, so take a few minutes out of your busy schedule and learn from the master. I am confident that you will find it time well spent.

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The secret to being a successful entrepreneur

The secret to being a successful entrepreneurHow often do you hear people say that they’d love to be an entrepreneur?

People will tell you that they’d love to be a success in business, making a difference to peoples’ lives with great products and services.

Then they’ll add the caveat that unfortunately the time’s not right for them at this moment. One day they’ll have a go but their circumstances won’t allow it at present.

However very few of those who say they’ll have a go, will ever actually have a go. They don’t really have the desire and they probably don’t understand the secret to being a successful entrepreneur anyway.

The only way to get rich:

As an entrepreneur, success is measured by the money you make. Let’s face it starting any business is all about making money for the owners. Otherwise why would anyone bother?

And starting your own business can be a fantastic thing to do and, for most people, it is the only way you’ll ever have the chance to make some serious money.

Certainly you’re unlikely to get seriously rich working for someone else.

However to succeed in business, first you must get started.

The critical ingredient to success in business is you getting off your butt and actually doing something about it. And the best time to do it is now. Last year or the year before might have been better but otherwise now is always the best possible time. It’s simple really.

The secret to making money:

Getting off your butt is one thing but how do you make money as an entrepreneur? Well dear reader pull up a chair and listen carefully for the secret is very simple.

The secret to making money as an entrepreneur is to solve problems for people. To make their lives easier in some way.

Solve problems; make money:

Every product you sell must solve a problem for the customer.

So if you can identify problems for which people need a solution and if you can offer those solutions, otherwise known as products, at value for money prices then you can make money and you can be successful.

Remember this too; you don’t necessarily have to be the first with a solution either. If you can improve on an existing solution in some way then you can still make some serious money. If you can ‘build a better mousetrap‘ then people will buy it.

For instance, Steve Jobs and Apple were not the first to offer cellular mobile phone handsets, and nor were Samsung. Yet these two companies both dominate the market for smartphones right now.

The secret to being a successful entrepreneurMake a difference:

Has your appetite for business been whetted dear reader?

Do you have any ideas you think might make a difference? You do? Then you have to be prepared to take action. Having ideas means nothing unless you take action.

Ideas are ten-a-penny. Plenty of people have good ideas that never see the light of day.

Occasionally people will have good ideas but just leave it all too long and then someone else comes along with the same idea and beats them to the draw.

Having ideas is easy. Implementation is the tough bit and there are too few people with the drive and determination to turn a good idea into a business opportunity and then make money from it.

So you must take action if you want to be a successful entrepreneur.

Not tomorrow; not next week; not next year; but right now.

Become a ‘doer’:

In my experience, true entrepreneurs are doers, they’re not dreamers.

So go on, get started right now.

Solve peoples’ problems and you’ll be on your way down the road to riches. Good luck.

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How the power of words can change lives

Have you ever wondered just how powerful words can be? Well let me tell you a heart warming story to emphasize something I believe to be true.

Not long ago I had lunch with a group of old friends. Nothing unusual about that, you might say.

Even the fact that it was the first time we’d all been together in the same place, at the same time since the summer of 1979 was not exceptional. Such reunions happen all the time, don’t they?

Anyway it was genuinely a pleasure to see them all again and swap stories about how our lives had progressed since those far off days.

However it’s the story of one of my fellow diners that day that’s worthy of sharing with you now because I think it’s a source of inspiration and it reinforces the importance of just how powerful words can be.

Back in those distant days, we were all working together for the national telecommunications operator in Bahrain. Three of us had been young, graduate engineers on an upward career trajectory, with the future seemingly ours for the taking. The other member of our group, let’s call him Saeed, had been the handyman and tea boy in the department at that time.

Saeed was then a teenager, straight out of school. He was a bright and willing fellow but with absolutely no academic qualifications and he spoke very little English at the time. He came from a poor village and his perceived failure at school had left him feeling that he’d blown his chances and was destined for a series of low paid, low skilled jobs.

Fast forward 40 years and Saeed’s now every bit the poor-boy-made-good story.

Not only is he now a wealthy international businessman with two very successful businesses. He also has a string of qualifications including a PhD. Amazingly he’s now completed a second doctorate too.

In short, his success is impressive by any measure.

Nevertheless, how did Saeed get from where he was to where he is now?

The simple answer of course is determination and a lot of hard work. You cannot achieve anything without those ingredients.

However he also needed a reason to believe; a spark to light the fire. And that for me is where the story gets interesting.

Over lunch Saeed explained that it was a kind and encouraging word, all those years ago, from one of our fellow diners that had made him believe that he could make a success of his life, despite a poor start.

My fellow diner in question, let’s call him Tom, didn’t even remember the conversation. However back in the day it seems Tom had explained to Saeed that your future is not defined by your past, it’s an endless stream of opportunities which you can choose to take, or not, and you can make your life whatever you want it to be.

The power of these well-timed words of encouragement had an impact on Saeed so profound that they propelled him down the road to a destiny which otherwise he did not think possible. And in that is the point.

Words can be very powerful, so always choose them wisely.

A few well-timed words can inspire young people. Young people need encouragement more than they need critics.

So next time you’re working with someone in the early stages of life’s journey, remember your words can have the power to encourage them. They also have the potential to discourage them too, if you’re not careful. What you say and how you say it really matters.

Always offer positive words of encouragement, rather than harsh words of criticism.

Never, ever forget how powerful your words can be. The right words really can inspire young people to achieve their full potential.

If you want to leave a legacy behind you; it would be hard to improve on that I think.

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How to build wealth from nothing – 5 Top Tips

How to build wealth from nothingThere’s nothing anyone can do if you were born poor. That was just unfortunate. However you don’t have to go through life poor.

It is possible to build wealth over time and people do.

Many people born poor become very wealthy through their own efforts and you can too dear reader.

Here are five tips to help you build wealth from nothing.

How to build wealth from nothing:

1. Pay yourself first:

You’ll know I’m sure that making money can be relatively easy, whilst holding on to it is very, very hard.

We’re all constantly bombarded with reasons why we should spend our money in return for some fleeting sense of gratification. Would that be an experience you recognise dear reader?

It doesn’t have to be that way of course and rich people know that only too well.

So what do rich people do that’s different to everyone else? Simple! They always pay themselves first.

And what do I mean by paying yourself first?

I mean when you’re paid, you take a slice off the top of your income immediately and you put it away somewhere safe. And by a slice I mean say 10%.

And what do I mean by somewhere safe?

Well initially that would be depositing your money in an interest-bearing account.

However once your money starts building into a larger sum then you can start thinking about other forms of investment that’ll give you greater returns potentially. Stocks and bonds for instance.

Building a capital sum is important because as your money grows it starts to generate a second income stream for you. That may not seem important to you now but it will be as you get older.

So paying yourself first is a discipline to which you must adhere until it becomes a habit you do without thinking.

You must always put some money away and you must make that money work hard for you. You must grow and protect your investment portfolio with careful diversification and over time you’ll find yourself building a sizeable fortune.

So here’s today’s mantra for you: Pay Yourself First. Never forget that please dear reader.

2. Be an investor not a speculator:

You must understand that there’s a big difference between investing and speculation. They’re not the same thing at all.

I don’t wish to imply that there’s something wrong with speculation though. There isn’t.

In the world of finance speculation brings liquidity to the market and therefore it does have its place.

However speculation tends to operate on the ‘greater fool’ principle.

By that I mean someone is prepared to buy an asset for a given price in the hope that it can then be sold quickly to someone else, the greater fool, for a greater price.

This is what professional speculators do and they can make money this way because they know what they’re doing and they have sophisticated systems to support them.

However for ordinary people speculation is like gambling in a casino. And you should never invest your money as though you’re gambling in a casino.

You might get lucky occasionally of course but over time your losses will outstrip any gains you might make, and almost certainly by a significant margin.

So my recommendation to you dear reader is you should never speculate. Instead you should focus on becoming an investor.

By investing I mean buying stocks and shares in solid, well managed, cash-generative businesses which have the ability to pay good dividends on a sustained basis.

Buy stocks worth holding for the long term. This will provide you with a steady income stream from the dividends regardless of any short to medium term volatility in the market. And spread your risk by building a diversified portfolio.

If you reinvest your dividends then over time you will find that this approach should give you a good return on your money.

If you want to make money and build capital, then my advice to you dear reader is to be an investor not a speculator.

3. Focus on value not price:

The legendary investor Warren Buffett once said, “Price is what you pay; value is what you get.

With this observation he’s making a very important point. There’s a distinction between price and value.

A low price for an asset doesn’t necessarily mean you’d be getting value. And a high price doesn’t automatically mean you would not be getting value. Price in itself is not a measure of value. You must consider other factors to judge value.

When you’re buying any financial asset, says stocks and shares, you should always focus on value and you must establish metrics by which you can adequately judge the intrinsic value within that asset.

Judged in isolation price is just a number, nothing more.

A lower price means absolutely nothing if you’re getting little or no value in return for your money.

Never, ever forget that it’s the intrinsic value that will determine whether something is really worth buying or not.

Get real value at the right price and then you can get a decent return over time from an investment.

4. Create a personal private income:

Much as we all aspire to do work we love, you must never forget dear reader that ultimately work is simply a means to an end.

Essentially work is just doing stuff for other people in exchange for money. In turn that money is then the fuel on which we run our lives.

Money provides us with the means to put bread on the table, a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs and those of our loved ones of course.

If you work hard enough you can earn a lot of money.

Manage that money wisely and you can build capital. Invest that capital intelligently and you can create your own personal private income streams.

When you have a decent private income in your own right then you can truly pick and choose the work you do.

Then you only have to do what you enjoy doing; that thing that gives you a genuine sense of purpose.

Creating a personal private income is a worthy goal and it’s well worth the effort.

That way you’re in control of your own life and no one else can dictate what you should and shouldn’t do.

You’ll be in control of the good ship ‘Me’ and only you then decide where it goes.

The message here is, work hard so you don’t have to work hard.

5. Never forget what matters most:

It would be very easy to believe that a life filled with lots of money and materiality will make you blissfully happy. Well let me tell you dear reader, in isolation, it won’t.

I’m not suggesting that these things are not important but you must get your priorities right.

Yes of course, go out there and make money. Manage it carefully. Buy nice things and enjoy some of that money too.

However to be truly happy you must never lose sight of the most important thing in your life and that is family and friends. People are social animals; we’re not solitary like cats. We need other people and most of all we need our loved ones.

So make time for your loved ones, especially your children. Enjoy their company and make the most of every minute with them.

Never focus on work to the exclusion of your family and friends. Without them you have nothing. Money is important of course but people are much more important.

Never lose sight of the people in your life.

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How to handle criticism at work

How to handle criticism at workHow well do you handle criticism at work dear reader?

Think about it. You’ve been working hard and really doing your best but someone still thinks it’s necessary, with a critical tone, to offer you some ‘words of advice‘ about the work you’ve just done.

Not a thank you; not an acknowledgement of the effort you’ve put in; just some caustic words about why they think your work is less than perfect.

Wouldn’t that make you feel just a little unloved, at the very least?

Now perhaps your critic lacks sensitivity? Perhaps he or she fails to appreciate the value you’ve been adding to whatever you were doing at the time? Perhaps your critic had no visibility of the constraints you were working under or the difficulties you faced?

Regardless of the circumstances, it’s natural if you feel a little hurt when all people can do is point to something they believe is wrong or incomplete. If it doesn’t actually hurt, certainly it can be irritating. It can also seem overly harsh at times.

The problem when hearing criticism is that our defensive barriers tend to go up immediately. And once we’re on the defensive we don’t tend to listen to the feedback we’re getting. We just concentrate on how we’ll respond in order to dismiss whatever’s being said.

This is unfortunate because if we did listen and reflect on what is being said, it’s just possible that our critic may actually have a valid point.

The importance of criticism is that it provides us with valuable feedback. And how we react to any feedback depends on our attitude and how we choose to look at it. We can get all hurt and defensive or we can choose to give our critic the benefit of the doubt and assume that they’re genuinely trying to be constructive.

In other words we can embrace criticism positively and seek to use it to our own advantage. Certainly this is the mature and grown up way of dealing with any criticism we receive.

We must recognize that none of us are perfect and we’re all prone to making the occasional mistake. That’s human nature. However if our aim is to succeed then we have to become masters of our chosen craft or profession. We have to be very good at whatever we’ve chosen to do if we’re going to stand out in the crowd. In fact we have to be the best.

Being the best requires the constant honing of our skills. That means we must learn from our mistakes and any inability that might prevent us from delivering the results required of us.

How to handle criticism at workLearning is a lifelong process and we should be constantly practising and developing our skills and improving on the results we deliver.

In order to do that then we must learn from our mistakes.

Some mistakes will be obvious to us of course but sometimes we’ll fail to recognize them. Fortunately others won’t.

The underlying point here is that criticism is simply feedback and feedback is essential if we’re to improve our skills and become masters of our craft or profession.

That’s why it’s important to listen. If we know where we fall short then we can do something about it.

If you find yourself on the receiving end of criticism, the first thing to do is to remind yourself that to feel hurt is quite natural. That’s simply an emotional response to a negative situation. However don’t take anything personally. Criticism is rarely groundless, though it’s often exaggerated.

Give your critic the benefit of the doubt and assume their intention is simply to provide you with some valuable feedback. Welcome that feedback. Don’t interrupt your critic with excuses. That will just make you look defensive. Don’t glower at them either because you might stop them sharing that crucial insight with you.

The truth may hurt, but the sooner you hear it, the sooner you can fix whatever it is you’re doing wrong, assuming you are doing something wrong.

Listen and focus on hearing everything being said. When your critic has made his or her point, say thank you. That will show confidence, dedication and grace too.

Then ask yourself honestly, is the point being made by your critic a fair one?

And you really do need to be honest with yourself here.

If your conclusion is that your critic has a fair point then you must embrace the lesson. Learn from it; resolve to do better next time; and be determined to improve.

That way you’ll go from strength to strength. You’ll gain the respect of other people too for your willingness to listen and learn.

However, remember this, critics are not always right.

If honest reflection leads you to the conclusion that your critic is being unfair then just ignore it.

Smile and move on. Never take it personally and never let anyone discourage you from the pursuit of your aims.

Conclusion:

Criticism is just feedback. Feedback is your friend. Embrace it; learn from it; use it to your advantage; but never take it personally. And if following honest reflection you think they’re wrong then it’s perfectly reasonable to ignore it and move on.

Further Reading:

If this article has whetted your appetite for learning more about receiving feedback then there are some good books on the subject. One you might look at is Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen.

This is a well-written book which is full of sound advice and plenty of examples which should make it easier to understand and follow. I found it useful and motivating and I think you might too.

You can check it out if you CLICK HERE.

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8 Top Business Tips for Success

Tips for Business SuccessIntroduction:

I read an article recently about a guy with a college degree who was feeling disillusioned because he couldn’t find a job. At least not one that met his expectations relative to the type of job he felt his degree merited.

Well it’s a tough world out there, as I’m sure you know only too well dear reader, and despite what some people may think, the world doesn’t owe us a living. The world owes us nothing and it’s down to us to make a life for ourselves.

Work is just doing stuff for other people in return for money and there will always be people with stuff that needs doing. So rather than seeking a job, perhaps we’d all be better off if we focused on seeking customers for the services we could provide.

That’s at the heart of what business is all about, providing people with solutions to their problems for profit, and there is much to be said for becoming an entrepreneur.

The advantages of self-employment:

There are many advantages to being self-employed.

For instance, not having to deal with office politics is a big advantage for a start.

And of course being the beneficiary of all of the proceeds of your efforts is another good reason.

Instead of making a lot of money for other people, you make it all for yourself. The harder you work the more you make for yourself too.

Unless you’re a lawyer or an investment banker, the chances are the only way you’ll ever make serious money is through building your own business. Building a business that one day you’ll be able to sell for a lot of money.

However remember this; you might think that if you’re self-employed then you’re your own boss. Well that’s not true. The customer is the boss.

Serve customers badly and you won’t be serving them for very long, that’s for sure.

The first rule of business is that you must ‘know thy customer’.

You must gain a deep understanding of the products, services and marketing that will appeal to your target customer.

One size will not fit all and each market will require a different approach.

Now going into business is not for the faint-hearted. You must be prepared to work very hard, at least in the early days.

However, if you can provide your target customers with real solutions to real problems then you can make serious money.

If someone else is already offering a solution to the target problem then your solution must be better than theirs in some way if it is to sell.

Creating great products and offering great customer service is the route to business success. However never forget your reputation and image. These things matter too.

Make sure you create an image that will appeal to as wide an audience as possible. Running your own business will be a challenge but it can also be extremely rewarding, both financially and in terms of a sense of achievement.

Remember also that running a small business is not a whole lot different to running a large business. The only real difference is one of scale. The key issues are always the same.

So here are some tips for would-be entrepreneurs:-

Business Tips for Success:

1. Control your costs:

Money comes into your business and money goes out. It’s that simple.

However fail to ensure that the former is always greater than the latter and trouble will follow at some point, whatever the size of your business.

A bigger business might be able to weather the storm a bit longer but the consequences of expenditure consistently exceeding income will be the exactly same. Keep losing money and eventually your business will go bust.

Take every opportunity to maximize your revenue and always keep your costs as low as you can. And never, ever lose sight of cash flow.

Don’t spend money unless it is absolutely necessary.

Ask yourself, do I really need to spend this money? What will I get in return? Can I achieve the same result at less or even no cost?

It might surprise you to learn how frequently it is possible to avoid cost, whilst still doing all the things big businesses do.

The key message here is that you must keep an iron-grip on costs and you must manage the flow of money carefully.

2. Do your own market research:

Every product should solve a problem for your customer and you should have some idea of what that problem is and how your product will solve it relative to the products offered by your competition.

Just because you think you’ve got a great product, doesn’t mean you have in the eyes of customers. Your opinion means nothing if there are not enough people willing to buy your product at the price you’re trying to charge for it.

If your product won’t sell then potentially your business could be in trouble.

Perhaps you think you’ve spotted a gap in the market?

If it’s a genuine gap then you might be on to a winner. However a gap in the market doesn’t always guarantee that there is a market within that gap. Maybe there’s a reason for the gap which you’ve yet to understand.

In business, the trick is to find out what people really want and then offer it to them.

How do you find that out?

One very good way is simply to ask them yourself.

I’m not referring to your family and friends here. They’ll be far too polite to give you any meaningful feedback.

You must talk to real customers, if and when you have them, and potential customers.

You can conduct some of your own market research in your local shopping mall or wherever you think your target customers might congregate. And don’t be shy. Only by actually talking to people can you confirm whether your ideas have real potential.

So identify some basic questions, stand there with a clipboard and just start asking people, as politely as possible.

Often they’ll be far more helpful than you might expect.

And don’t forget you can always use the Internet too.

Search engines like Google have keyword search tools which are free to use. These tools allow you to get a ‘rough and ready’ measure of what people are searching for and how frequently.

Market research doesn’t have to be expensive. As a small business entrepreneur it is possible to do it yourself. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on this activity but it’s essential that you do it.

Your results might not be quite as scientific as those produced by the professional market research people but they will provide you with a rough guide and that’ll be good enough in the first instance.

3. Advertising costs money: is there a better way?

It’s true that visibility matters. For your business and your products it’s essential.

Your products might be the best in the world but they won’t sell at all if potential customers have no idea they exist. Surely that much is obvious.

The question is, how does any business ensure that customers have visibility of its products? The obvious answer is advertising of course.

However media advertising can be very expensive and it’s a cost which new businesses often cannot afford.

One small advert in the back of a glossy magazine can cost you a lot of money and yet you have to ask yourself whether that would be money well spent?

How often do you notice the small advertisements in the back of a magazine? In my case, the answer is not very often.

With so many advertisements competing for my attention I tend to filter them all out. I’m willing to bet that you do too dear reader.

So, if you’re not careful, money spent on advertising can be money wasted in my experience.

A better approach might be to use some creative thinking with a focus on public relations.

Smart entrepreneurs know that business is show business. It’s all about getting noticed.

For example the entrepreneur Richard Branson is a brilliant exponent at getting media attention at little or no financial cost to his business.

It helps that he’s a likeable guy of course but he’s also clever and creative in his approach.

If you have an interesting back story perhaps the local press, local radio or even television might be willing to run a story on you and your business and the products you have to offer?

Social media can be a very powerful medium for gaining attention for your business too.

Social media is also a useful way of driving traffic to your company’s website, particularly Pinterest which is an incredible tool.

Then there’s using search engine optimization (SEO) techniques on your website content to ensure you drive traffic to your site from the search engines.

Let’s face it you do need to appear on the first page of a Google search if there’s to be any chance of anyone noticing you and your business. However if you can make that happen you can get enormous amounts for traffic from Google and other search engines, like Bing and Yahoo.

Make sure you offer visitors to your company website the opportunity for signing up to a regular email newsletter. And give them an incentive to sign up.

This could be a free report or perhaps a discount code for one of your products.

How about running a competition using your company’s fan page on Facebook or your company website?

The price of say a smartphone or a Kindle or other electronic device as a prize would be cheaper than the cost of a small advert in a glossy magazine but it’s more likely to get noticed and it’ll probably generate a lot more excitement.

If you have a car or van; don’t forget that it can be emblazoned with your company logo, your website details and product information on the back, sides and front. Even on the roof.

It would be free advertising as you’re driving around.

Park your vehicle at a big event attended by thousands of people and you’re beginning to master the art of guerrilla marketing.

The bottom line is that creative thinking and public relations can produce powerful results in your quest for visibility at a fraction of the cost of advertising. The key message is; be creative.

4. Don’t make yourself indispensable:

The biggest mistake any entrepreneur or business manager can make is to think that every decision should be made by them.

If you’ve started a business from scratch you tend to form an emotional bond with it. It becomes your baby and you become very protective of it.

That’s natural of course but as the business grows you’ll have so many things to do that you couldn’t possibly do them all. You could try, of course. However if you try to do everything you’ll find yourself falling behind in key areas like product sourcing, sales and keeping your accounts up to date.

Fall behind and it becomes very hard to catch up. Potentially it is also very damaging for the business.

So you have to learn the art of delegation.

A good start would be to document every task and process within the business and then create an Operations Manual. This can include everything from the preferred method for answering the phone to completing invoices and dealing with complaints.

It can also include the degree of flexibility which you are delegating to staff, so they can get on with basic tasks allowing you to get on with those activities which are much more important for achieving business success.

No business should be dependent solely on one person.

If it is and that person gets seriously ill or has an accident then obviously the business would be in trouble very quickly and it would struggle.

Delegate basic activities to your staff and you can be sure that the business will continue to function even when you’re not around.

It will also give you a bit more thinking time for steering to the company towards bigger and better things.

The key message here is that you must delegate. Never delude yourself into thinking that only you can do a particular task.

5. Charge sensible prices:

It’s easy when you’re a small business to undervalue your products and your time. The result is that you undercharge for what you have to offer.

This is particularly true when professionals are selling their expertise and time on the basis of a consultancy arrangement.

It’s common for first-timers to lack the confidence to charge what they might perceive to be a high rate for their services.

The problem is that selling things cheaply can be counter-productive because customers then think they’re getting an inferior product or service and can be put off.

It is a fact that price can often be used as a proxy measure for quality when your business is being judged.

You have to be very business-like when considering the pricing of your products and services.

So look at what your competitors are charging and then analyse where you think your products and services fit into the market.

If you struggle with that idea then you can always seek guidance from someone else, like a fellow business owner or your accountant.

However you must always remember that you must believe in your products and services. If you don’t then why should anyone else?

You must project confidence.

If you don’t have the courage of your convictions then the chances are that your business will never succeed.

Believe in yourself and charge what you’re really worth. Sell yourself on the basis of the value you bring.

6. Make the best use of technology:

Sometimes small business owners think that because they are small they can act in a small way. However that can be a mistake.

Don’t be afraid to invest in your business. For instance investing in up-to-date technology like the right phone system and websites do not have to be expensive but they can be the difference between a customer contacting you or not.

These days no business, large or small, can operate without a website.

And that website needs to be as user-friendly as it possibly can be.

Make sure your website provides customers and potential customers with the opportunity to sign up for a regular email newsletter. And as suggested earlier, offer them encouragement so they do sign up.

Ensure also that your telephone system allows customers to reach you at their first attempt. Certainly customers won’t make too many attempts to call you before they will simply go elsewhere.

If you don’t know how to do all this yourself then go on a course or seek guidance from someone with the right expertise.

Good communications will pay handsome dividends over time.

7. Set goals:

You have to know what it is you’re trying to achieve, if you are to have any chance of successfully achieving it.

Never set your sights too low either. Set yourself a challenge and then put all your energy into achieving it.

Once you’ve set a goal then you need to establish a plan as to how it is going to be achieved.

For instance if your goal is to achieve a certain level of turnover over the next year, you have to break that down into the small steps you will need to take for it to be achieved.

How many sales will you need to achieve each day, each week and each month?

What implications will those sales targets have for production?

Do you have enough sales staff to generate that amount of business?

And so on.

Always create a plan and review it regularly making adjustments as and when necessary.

8. If you got a great idea then do something with it:

How many great ideas never see the light of day because the person with the idea fails to do anything about it?

And how many times does someone with an idea see someone else come along with the same idea and beat them to market?

Procrastination stops many entrepreneurs from cashing in on a great idea. Don’t let this be you.

If you’re waiting for the perfect time to do anything you will be waiting for the rest of your life.

Now is always the perfect time.

Don’t wait until you think the economy will be better or your children have left home or some other arbitrary barrier.

The right time to start your business is right now.

So go for it. Yes you’ll make mistakes. You won’t get everything right first time. You won’t become an instant millionaire either.

However by getting started you will be heading in the right direction and you will learn along the way.

Hard work combined with implementing good ideas will get you there eventually.

Concluding Remarks:

I hope these tips prove useful to you dear reader.

It was not intended to be a comprehensive guide for entrepreneurs and I recognise that you may many of your own ideas.

I love to hear them, so please feel free to share them with our readers.

Polite request:

If you found this article useful then please share it on social media with your friends. When you share, everyone wins.

Please share it now and I’ll be ever so grateful. You’ll be helping a keen blogger reach a wider audience.

Thank you.

Other articles you might also find interesting:

© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2019. All Rights Reserved.

How to find the right job for you: Simply Explained

Do you enjoy your work? Do you have a job you love? Do you wake-up each morning filled with enthusiasm for the day ahead? Alternatively maybe you just feel your job allows you to earn an income but beyond that you can’t wait until 5pm when the working day is over? Perhaps you’re constantly asking how to find the right job for you? If that’s you then you’re not alone.

The acid test when you’re not sure is to ask yourself the lottery question. What does that mean? If means you ask yourself this, “If I won the lottery and money ceased to be an issue; would I continue to do the work I’m doing now or would I try something else?

Yes of course if you won the lottery you’d have a little fun with the money first, but eventually your life would need a sense of purpose and routine again. So how would you fill your time then?

If you enjoy what you do, and you are recognized as being very good at it, then you’ll do your job well and you’ll be successful at what you do. And if you enjoy what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. Now how good would that be?

So if you’re not happy with your job right now, the next question to ask yourself is, “What do I really want to be?

To answer that question, you really need to consider:-

  1. What are you good at?
  2. What do you enjoy doing?

These are quite different things but if you can find the sweet spot between them then you have the basis for finding a job you’ll love. So the steps to job heaven are as follows:-

STEP 1: What are you good at?

Not merely competent but really good at? Think about that question carefully and be honest with yourself.

What activities are intuitive to you? Things you can do easily and readily without having to give them too much thought?

Ask friends and colleagues for their views, and ask them to be really honest with you. Ask people you work with about the tasks they consider you the absolutely, first choice ‘go to’ person?

Gather together this information and make a list.

STEP 2: What do you enjoy doing?

Then make a list of all the things you really enjoy doing.

Which activities really give you a buzz? What activities get you so absorbed that you really lose track of time? What activities would you do for free or as a hobby, if you couldn’t make a living at them?

Paul McCartney once said that if he couldn’t have made a living out of writing songs and playing music, he’d have done it as a hobby, simply because he loved it so much.

What activities make you feel the same way? Make that list and don’t be reasonable.

All this requires time for reflection and careful thought, as well as feedback from other people. So do give it the time it deserves.

Don’t jump to conclusions. You do want to ensure you get it right don’t you?

STEP 3: Where is the common ground between your lists?

When you have your two lists ready, the final step is to identify the common ground between them, the point at which the two lists intersect.

If you find an item that is contained on both lists then you have found the Holy Grail. Finding something you’re genuinely good at and have a real talent for, and which is also something you’d really enjoy, will give you the greatest chance of success.

It is essential you find the common ground between your lists because:-

  1. If you really enjoy it, you’ll stick with it.
  2. If you’re really good at it, someone will notice

And if you get it right, sometimes people will sprinkle fairy dust on you too.

Finding job heaven is never about luck. If you’re doing something you enjoy doing and you’re doing it well, you’ll stick with it long enough to get someone’s attention. And when you get their attention, you’ll dazzle them because you’re doing it well.

That’s not luck; it’s hard work, perseverance and timing.

Once you’ve identified what you want, the next question is, “How do you get it?” That will be the subject of another post.

Have you managed to find job heaven? If so, how did you succeed?

If you’ve any ideas you can share then that will really help your fellow readers.

Polite request:

If you found this article useful then please share it on social media with your friends. When you share, everyone wins.

Please share it now and I’ll be ever so grateful. You’ll be helping a keen blogger reach a wider audience.

Thank you.

Other articles you might also find interesting:

© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2019. All Rights Reserved.

11 tips for improving quality of life

tips for improving quality of lifeLife has never been easy but it seems to get tougher with each passing year.

We’re all constantly juggling the conflicting demands of work and family and trying to squeeze in a little ‘me time’ whenever possible.

It’s that elusive thing known as work-life balance. Most of us aspire to it but few achieve it.

How would you describe the quality of your life right now?

This is a question we all ask ourselves occasionally.

A reader asked me recently whether I could offer some tips for improving quality of life. It’s a subject close to my heart, so I am only to happy to oblige.

So here are 11 memorable tips which I hope will help you improve your life’s quality:-

Top tips for improving quality of life:

1. Keep it simple

There really is a lot to be said for simplicity. Complexity can be stressful. So keep everything in life as simple as possible. Ditch the clutter; buy only what you really need and can actually use; and learn to appreciate what you have rather than fretting about things you think you’d like to have but don’t right now. Nothing matters much and actually very few things really matter at all. If you’re lucky enough to have family and a handful of genuine friends plus food on your table and a roof over your head then what more do you actually need? Keeping life simple will reduce your stress levels and that’s important.

2. Treat people with respect

I believe that only people matter. Yes having a nice house and a nice car is great but as human beings we are social animals. We are not solitary animals like cats. We live in groups and we need other people in our lives. And key to having friends is being a friend and treating other people with respect. Treat everyone as you’d prefer them to treat you. Not everyone will appreciate that approach of course but the ones that matter most will and surely that’s what counts. Treat people with respect and generally other people will treat you with respect. And if we could all treat each other with respect then the world would be a better place.

3. Actions speak louder than words

We are judged by what we do and not what we say. Anyone can talk a good game but not everyone can deliver real results and deliver them well. If you want to impress people then it is only your actions that will count. If you can do what you do well then you will be well on your way to achieving success.

4. Ask questions

Intelligent people ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask a question or to request a clarification about something. If something doesn’t sound quite right then don’t be afraid to challenge it. Ask questions and you’ll learn; fail to ask questions and a life of ignorance lies ahead of you. Only a fool would proceed in ignorance.

5. Look forward; never back

The past has gone and it is important only insofar as the lessons it has taught us and the memories it has given us. The future is where we will spend the rest of our lives. Therefore we should always be living in the present and looking to the future. And above all our focus should be on forging the future we really want. Live your life by looking through the windshield not the the rear-view mirror.

6. Create your own future

We can’t change the past but we can influence our future. We can have a vision of what we want to achieve and how we’d like it to be. We don’t have to accept what is given to us. We can go out and get the things we want. It takes hard work, as well as determination and discipline but it can be done. Create the future you really want and don’t just settle for anything that comes along.

7. Don’t be afraid to change direction if necessary

There will be times in your life when you head off in a particular direction only to find that it doesn’t turn out to be quite what you imagined it would be. There’s nothing wrong with that as you won’t always get it right. From time to time you will make mistakes or perhaps you’ll misjudge a situation. However once you realize something is not quite right for you then don’t be afraid to change direction.

Just take it on the chin, change direction and move on. Don’t worry about what others might think. They’ll think whatever they think but who cares? It’s your life not theirs. It’s only what you think that matters. If you’re not happy with a situation then it’s better to take action than to live a miserable existence because you’re worried about what others might think.

8. Face your fear and just do it

From time to time we all face challenges in our lives. They can often seem daunting and more than a little scary. However if life was always easy then we’d never grow as people. By facing up to a challenge we learn and we grow. That’s how we build our character. That’s how we toughen up. Yes we’ll make mistakes but it is better to have a go and fail than not have a go at all.

Face a challenge and achieve a result and we have done something of which we can be truly proud. Face a challenge and get an outcome we didn’t really want and at least we’ve learned a valuable lesson. That is how we build experience. And if nothing else we can be proud that at least we had a go.

Fear is the body’s way of warning us to proceed with caution. It’s natural to feel fear but courage is our ability to act despite feeling that fear. Have courage and face every challenge as it comes. However hard it might appear at first, you’ll be glad you did.

9. Look after your own well being

You can’t enjoy life to the full if you have health problems can you? So take care of yourself and look after your health. Eat sensibly, drink in moderation, get plenty of exercise and avoid things like tobacco and other recreational stimulants. You might think it doesn’t matter but it does. One puff on a cigarette won’t kill you but the effect of regular smoking will have a cumulative, detrimental effect on your health. You might think ‘you can handle drugs’ but that is the wisdom of a fool. Regular use of recreational drugs will affect you in time. It is only a matter of time. If you don’t look after yourself then no one else will.

10. Learn to manage your time effectively

Time is our most precious resource. We all have the same amount of time, 168 hours each week. It’s how we choose to use it that matters most. Just because someone wants a piece of our time, it doesn’t follow that we should just give it to them. Allocate your time very, very carefully.

If something doesn’t need to be done, don’t do it. If someone else can do it, let them do it. If it can wait, let it wait. And if it absolutely must be done now, get on with it.

It is all about your priorities and those actions where you and only you can add the most value. Identify those things that will allow you to be most effective and they will form the basis of your priorities.

11. Have fun; life’s too short

We all need to ensure that we take time out for ourselves occasionally. We all need a little ‘me’ time; time to recharge our batteries and relax. Work is important of course, as it gives us a sense of purpose in our lives. However it is essential that we have a little fun too.

Life is far too short to be constantly working. So having a hobby or pleasurable pursuit is a very good idea, as is spending some quality time with the people who matter most to you. Have some fun and make sure that you have it regularly.

Polite request:

If you found this article useful then please share it on social media with your friends. When you share, everyone wins.

Please share it now and I’ll be ever so grateful. You’ll be helping a keen blogger reach a wider audience.

Thank you.

Other articles you might also find interesting:

© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2019. All Rights Reserved.